Book Review: A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge #4) by James Blish and Greg Bear (four stars)
Almost all knowledge, after all, fell into that category. It was either perfectly simple once you understood it, or else it fell apart into fiction.
Published in 1958, this novel is simultaneous outdated and relevant. First contact of a non-Trekkian kind demands deeper introspection. A good read.
“This is not a question of information. It is a question of whether or not the information can be used. If it cannot, then limitless information is of no help.”
Folks under thirty may have trouble identifying with a Jesuit scientist or politicians of the 50s. The absence of integrated circuits and microcomputer-based information transfer is striking.
It was right and proper to pity children, but Ruiz-Sanchez was beginning to believe that adults generally deserve any misfortune that they get.
It made an impression – I can’t remember how long ago I read it, but I still remember some of the philosophical arguments (note: I’m Catholic, and finished my physics undergrad degree at Seattle U., a Jesuit college). It is possible to be religious and deeply scientific (also my bag), although the Jesuits have excluded women in holy orders. It’s A story, an idea pushed to its limit, a discussion of the consequences of beliefs – not a logical argument.
I think the characters might seem undeveloped compared to more modern fiction, but the politics and the choices, are right out of yesterday’s headlines. Too bad so many of the people making these choices don’t seem to read.